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Slow broadband speeds? Now you can cancel

Tougher rules to let customers exit their contract

New rules being introduced by Ofcom will let broadband customers exit their contract at any time if they aren’t getting the speed quoted by their provider.

Currently customers can only cancel their broadband deal penalty free within the first three months of the contract. After that time they are charged a penalty fee to exit, even if their broadband speed is slow.

Under the new rules customers can cancel at any time, if the speed they receive is slower than the speed they were quoted when they signed up.

Ofcom on broadband

The new Ofcom chief executive, Sharon White, outlined the move in her first speech since joining the regulator. Speaking at a Which? event she pledged to put ‘consumers and citizens at the heart of what Ofcom does’, saying ‘We will beef up the code of practice for broadband. Consumers should be able to walk away from contracts when speeds fall below an acceptable level’.  

The new rules were welcomed by Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd: ‘We’ve called for moves to make it easier to switch telecoms providers, so we’re pleased to see Ofcom’s response and look forward to swift action to tackle this and other problems facing consumers and competition in the communications market.’

‘Unreliable broadband speeds drive consumers crazy, so we also welcome the regulator telling providers to give better information on the speeds customers will realistically achieve, and to let people leave their contracts without penalty if they don’t get what is promised.’

How do the new rules on broadband speed work?

Under the existing Ofcom code of practice all broadband providers must give customers an accurate speed quote when they are signing up to the service. This is called the minimum guaranteed access line speed (MGALS) and should be given in writing.

Customers whose speeds regularly fall below the MGALS will be able to exit their contract so long as their provider has had a reasonable opportunity to solve the problem and improve the speed.  

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